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Home Field Advantage - Does it Exist?

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  • Home Field Advantage - Does it Exist?

    Overall - is there such thing as home field advantage in MLB?

    Not talking about for certain parks, teams or players over certain amount of time. Don't want to hear about the 1975 Reds or the 1927 Yankees or what's happened at Riverfront or such. Obviously, better teams tend to win more games. I realize that if we did some sort of rating for the Braves, their pitchers or their field over the last 17 years, we might get one answer - BUT:

    Over the history of the league (obviously the largest sample possible), what has happened?

    Considering all the NL games since 1876 and AL games since 1901, what % of regular-season games did the home team win, lose, tie?

    Same question - for post season play since 1903, save 1904 and '94.

    Is there a quick method to get the numbers? Thanks.

  • #2
    I could be wrong but I believe its around 53% to 54% for homefield advantage in MLB.

    Its alot larger in other sports.


    • #3
      The home team has won at a .538 clip since the dawn of baseball according to my gamelog file. The 8% edge to the home team is fairly consistent from year to year after 1882 also.


      • #4
        Since 1901, regular season, at home:

        Games Wins Losses Win%
        170611 91922 77888 .541
        Author of THE BOOK -- Playing The Percentages In Baseball


        • #5
          since 1901 that is correct Tom. Since 1871...slightly different numbers.


          • #6
            Stats aside, you'd have to believe that it exists because general managers and managers "build" their teams to fit their ballpark.

            A park that has short fences would tend to look for ground ball pitchers, and would load up on lefthanded or righthanded batters so as to take advantage of which ever fence is the shorter.

            A team with a problematic infield surface might tend to load up with excellent glove men, and one with an expansive outfield would look for outfielders that cover more ground.

            So since some attempt is made to "tailor" the characteristics of the players to the character of the home field, you'd have to concede that there should be some sort of home field advantage.

            Actually, the .538 (or .541) home field winning percentage is slightly lower than I would have imagined......


            • #7
              Forget about this "tailor" business. There's no tailoring in hockey, basketball, football, or soccer.


              Matt, I wasn't responding to your numbers, which I'm sure they are accurate. I was providing a link so that people can do the work themselves. It's simply amazing to me how people who come here can't spend a few minutes to poke around at b-r or Retro.


              The better question provided is when he asked about post-season. One of the advantages to the regular season home field advantage may be the travel. If a team is flying in, while you've been home already, you could have an advantage there.

              In the post-season, travel is exactly the same. So, what's left is the familiarity of the park, and the effect of the fans.
              Author of THE BOOK -- Playing The Percentages In Baseball


              • #8
                The fans make it an advantage also. Everybody standing and yelling would get my adrenaline going. :gt :hyper: :applaud:


                • #9
                  I think the emotional relevance of the fans is sometimes overstated, but I do believe that players adjust their style of play some in response to a high-adrenaline atmosphere provided by their home fans.

                  I also disagree with Tom completely about the tailoring theory. Tom...the four sports you listed have absolutely no physical differences in their fields of play. All football fields have the same dimensions, the same amenities for the teams, and (more or less) the same playing surface. All hockey arenas are the same exact size and are made out of the same ice. All soccer fields are the same size, have the same grass (or close enough)...all basketball courts have the lines painted in the same places, the court is made of the same material, the ball and hoop are identical.

                  Baseball is the only sport where tailoring is makes sense that it be the only sport where tailoring occurs on a large scale. The Yankees have 7 players who bat predominantly left handed this year...are actually going to argue that that was random? Steinvador and Cashman will laugh right in your face. They went out and got a bunch of lefties over the years to deal with the short porch in right and the deep LCF power alley. The Red Sox like to get lefties who hit the other way and righties who pull it...there's a big green wall out there that explains why. The Mariners like flyball pitchers, speedy outfielders and line drive hitters and the dead air of Seattle tells the story as to why. Tailoring absolutely goes on and it absolutely explains part of the HFA in baseball.


                  • #10
                    As far as emotional advantage goes........I would think sports like football and hockey would benefit more then baseball. To me, those are played with more emotion. But I wouldnt totally discount it in baseball either.


                    • #11
                      Of all the sports that allow tailoring, it just so happens that the one that does has the lowest home field advantage. That was my point. Even if you can tailor, the impact must be incredibly small.

                      Here's the Home and Away records for all teams, since 1994:
                      Team Home Away Diff
                      COL 0.554 0.397 0.157
                      TEX 0.550 0.436 0.114
                      FLA 0.532 0.420 0.112
                      TBD 0.450 0.347 0.103
                      STL 0.578 0.486 0.092
                      PIT 0.483 0.392 0.091
                      SFG 0.567 0.478 0.089
                      MON 0.512 0.425 0.087
                      HOU 0.577 0.493 0.084

                      OAK 0.568 0.488 0.080
                      SEA 0.562 0.483 0.079
                      CHW 0.559 0.481 0.078
                      TOR 0.525 0.453 0.072
                      NYM 0.547 0.476 0.071
                      DET 0.465 0.396 0.069
                      SDP 0.527 0.459 0.068
                      MIL 0.485 0.419 0.066
                      ARI 0.537 0.473 0.064
                      NYY 0.633 0.570 0.063
                      LAD 0.557 0.494 0.063
                      CAL 0.547 0.484 0.063
                      MIN 0.521 0.458 0.063

                      BOS 0.582 0.525 0.057
                      PHI 0.516 0.460 0.056
                      ATL 0.617 0.564 0.053
                      CLE 0.575 0.523 0.052
                      CHC 0.500 0.453 0.047
                      KCR 0.448 0.410 0.038
                      CIN 0.505 0.476 0.029
                      BAL 0.486 0.463 0.023

                      The average difference is 72 points (.536 home, .464 away).

                      Fenway and Coors are the most unique of parks I'd think. There's nothing special about the Fenway "tailoring". In fact, they have a below-average advantage.

                      Coors has the "Rox road effect". That is, there's a documented dropoff among Rox players on the road. We can argue about Coors separately, but if you come up with the most unique parks, you'll find that you won't find what you think you should find.

                      (Note: the above list is by team, not park. So, beware.)
                      Author of THE BOOK -- Playing The Percentages In Baseball


                      • #12
                        That's wrong-headed analysis, Tom. If you're looking for tailoring, you should be looking for intelligent front office personnel or at least a coherent front office strategy. Colorado might be one of the smartest franchises in baseball, and oh BTW, the Rox road effect is DEAD. That's old information that no longer applies...the humidor seems to have stopped the negative road response in Colorado splits at least for the quality players on the team (both pitchers and hitters).

                        Tailoring isn't just done on the "unique"'s done everywhere...the AVERAGE team has tailoring there is tailoring even if your H/R split is average.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by SABR Matt View Post
                          The Yankees have 7 players who bat predominantly left handed this year...are actually going to argue that that was random?
                          Considering the Giambi, Damon, and Matsui contracts, the Yankees were forced into having such an unbalanced line up. They didn't get Mientkiewicz for his bat. It just happens that Cano hits lefty.

                          The Yankees tried to justify it by claiming the lefties could hit lefties and that there are fewer and fewer curve ball pitchers.

                          The Yankees, since the days of Joe Collins, Irv Noren, Gene Woodling, and Eddie Robinson have tried to get some right handed power, such as Bob Cerv, Bill Skowron, and whomever else was available, but this year, it was the situation that forced so many lefties into the lineup.
                          Baseball articles you might not like but should read.


                          • #14
                            Hey the top 10 Yankee bats of all time.

                            How many of them are lefties, 7? 8?

                            OF COURSE the Yankees try to get some right handed power...they don't try to get the usual proportion thereof though. And it's bass-ackwards logic to argue that the Yankees were "forced" into a lefty-heavy line-up...they had the free will to sign those players, no? Giambi, Matsui, Posada (switch hitter but most of his ABs left handed), Bernie Williams, Abreu, Damon, Tino Martinez...they've had way more than their fair share of left handed batters. FOR A REASON.


                            • #15
                              The data was 1994-2007, so the non-Humidor effect will still overwhelm the data.

                              Certainly you'd like to have an intelligent front office that will leverage the park. The fact of the matter is that they don't exist. What front office out there, before the fact, has tailored their team to their park.

                              Tailoring, while theoretically possible, in practice doesn't exist.
                              Author of THE BOOK -- Playing The Percentages In Baseball


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